April 10th, 2009
03:39 PM ET
9 years ago

Immigration reform: Will the climate ever be right?

(CNN) - Word that President Obama might pile comprehensive immigration reform onto his already-full plate reignited calls from some for an urgent overhaul and brought cries from others that the timing couldn't be worse.

"It's more important than ever to address immigration reform right now," said Ian Haney Lopez, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley.

The financial and cultural dynamics of the economy make reform so urgent, he said.

"I worry that in the context of an economic downturn, the cultural response of that economic downturn will be to search for someone to blame, and that someone usually turns out to be a foreigner or someone perceived as foreigner," he said.

As a financial dynamic, he said, the economy also calls for immigration reform: "It's a mistake to understand immigrants as a drain on the economy. Immigrants in fact are the engine of development in this country and always have been," he said.

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Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Lori

    @Pauladia: The climate is right now. I recently read an legal brief which states we have an illegal immigrant in the White House!

    No, honey. You must mean an illegal alien. And that alien was in the White House for the past 8 years. His name was George W.

    April 10, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. dm

    ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL. They broke our laws, and you want reward them. I don't care how long they have been here, how many roots they have set down. They broke the law when they entered our country. They need to go back to their own country. Laws are laws. We need to enforce the laws we have in place and adhere to them. If we give them AMNESTY it will pave the way for more. What about all the people in this country who have lost their jobs? They will do the jobs of the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, they need to put food on their table. What about the overcrowding of our school system? What about the many hospitals that have closed their doors because the Illegal immigrants do not pay for their health care? There are too many who broke the law and are taking our social benefits. They need to go back home.

    April 10, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. Delroy Henry

    I think what the president is doing on immigration is right.People enter the country illegally and thats wrong ,but they have family to feed and bills to pay,so why not make them work legally and earn a honest bread? i think as a result the crime rate among illegals would decrease and it will benefit the U.S. in the long term economically.

    April 10, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Pete

    Funny that conservatives don't seem to care that the US grants automatic citizenship to any Cuban who washes up on a Florida beach. So, don't give me this crap about legal v. illegal immigration.

    April 10, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Denise

    The climate IS right! Obama must have been born under a lucky star. I think he will get about 85% of what he wants while POTUS. I am not sure what his immigration policy will be, but whatever it is, the party of "NO," will scream loudly!

    April 10, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. David Newport, OR

    nope...it never will be time...that is why we must do it...same with health care.

    April 10, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Hayden

    What is it about Obama that makes him want to reward bad behaviour? Run a company into the ground we'll give you a bail out, buy a house you can't afford then we'll renegotiate your mortgage for you, try to kill American citizens and we'll release you from Gitmo and break into our country and violate our law we'll give you citizenship. I think that Obama is only doing this now so he and the Democratic party can claim the loyalty of the new "citizens" – and their votes.

    April 10, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. arithmetic is liberal

    When you have a border between two countries – one with an income 20 times high than the other, PEOPLE WILL CROSS THE BORDER.


    April 10, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  9. Real Change

    Not as long as some continued to call the solution "amnesty."

    If you listen closely, those opposed to "amnesty" are saying that a penalty must be paid by all who are here now and undocumented. That's approximatly 12 million people. The practicalities of the situation therefore call for 12 million people to volunarily come forward to pay a fine, or, law enforcement rounds up 12 million people and deports them. Both are nothing but laughable.

    The solution is to let them come...legally. That way they will be documented when they arrive. Red tape and fines and threats only serves to perpetuate the problem.

    April 10, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Da Professor

    There are NO winners in the immigration discussion. Realists know that there are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States and that there is NO way to round them all up and deport them. So what do you do? Building a 700 mile fence across a 2500 mile border like Bush did is a joke. Build any length fence is a joke. There is water at either end of the border and, believe it or not, Mexicans can swim and do have boats.

    The only answer is to make employing illegals a large, punishable offense and enforce the heck out it. Will that happen? Naw ... the Republicans would scream if we punished businesses. So ... what is your answer? Frankly, I haven't got one.

    April 10, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. california

    I am sick and tired of folks proclaiming that those illegals now with families in the US should be issued automatic amnesty. Listen, they knew they were illegal when they entered thsi country and decided that since they were receiving govt assistance why not have children to increase the aide. Then fill the public school system with children who come from english-broken homes, which later effects American children whose educations are being delayed while they wait for those others to catch up. Then use us govt housing and food programs to assist their children's children. Listen, we have Americans who already abuse or programs funded by tax payers. Now should we be content with illegal immigrants doing the same. Don't reform the programs or imigration. Just start returning folks to their countries. Thanks, but no thanks. Us Americans have our own problems now.

    April 10, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. rhoward

    When President Reagan granted amnesty to all the illegal immigrants here back in the 1980s, one of the conditions was that the US/Mexican border would be secured. We were told that this amnesty was to be a one-time thing. However, nothing but pay lip service has ever been paid to securing our borders and illegals have flooded over our borders in hopes of being given amnesty. Now, we are supposed to believe that if we give this bunch of illegals amnesty, this will be the last time. It won't be until politicians start taking our border security seriously.

    April 10, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Dave from WI

    Ronald Regan tried amnasy but he didn't follow through with securing the borders.

    What ever the president does he has to secure the boarder and keep more illegals out or in a few more election cycles we will have to fix another mess.

    A road to citizenship is fine but without securing the boarder is asking for problems. A road to citizenship for those here already that is reasonable and NOT a short cut is fine.

    BUT without a secure boarder anything tried will doom to fail.

    I have been disappointed for may presidential election cycles with the failure of dealing with illegal immigration.

    I do hope any Obama plan will work but history has shown politics gets in the way of any great plans of mice and men (regardless of party)

    April 10, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Barbara Independent in NY

    The climate will never be right as long as people enter this country illegally and then demand rights they have not earned.

    April 10, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. America 1st

    We've got a national security risk with a porous border and ports. Secure the Border. This is INDEPENDENT of Immigration reform.

    If latinos object to efforts to secure the border, we've got to question they devotion to this country. Part of being an American is to adopt American values, regardless of your ethnic background.

    April 10, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. Ennis, LA

    This is not the time to reward illegal immigrants with unemployment growing higher and higher. Our workforce is destablized enough as it is. FDR sent over a million packing homeward during the Great Depression cause he knew American jobs were at risk. Lopez is

    April 10, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. jim

    IF it is so bad In Mexico, Why do the mexicans keep having more litters of puppies that they cant feed.

    April 10, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Reggie in Jacksonville

    The government needs to remove the incentives for illegal immigrates
    come to this country, make it harder for them to get job and services, also stop giving citizenship to illegals children that are born it this country. Make the parents prove they are citizens or their children are given a birth certificate that says "NONE US CITIZEN".

    April 10, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. arithmetic is liberal

    jim April 10th, 2009 5:32 pm ET

    IF it is so bad In Mexico, Why do the mexicans keep having more litters of puppies that they cant feed.

    IF it is so bad In Ireland, Why do the Irish keep having more litters of puppies that they cant feed.

    – jim, circa 1845, proud member of the Know Nothing Party

    April 10, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Still Waiting for 40 Acres & a Mule

    I know that America has let in the most desperate European settlers no matter how poor. However, the past is the past.

    In 2009, we need to secure the border and control access to our country.

    Among illegal immigrants, we need to give preferential treatment to those that are contributing more than they are consuming. Those that are brighter than the average American. In short, in addressing the 12M people here illegally, the US should require every illegal that is given a path to citizenship should raise the stature of America.

    This is firm but fair position. It is race neutral. It will allow some Mexicans to become citizens. It is conservative and it puts America 1st.

    April 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  21. No Hillary = No Obama

    The only "reform" is to send them all back and start all over again.

    April 10, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. arrogant selfish

    more illegal more new democrats votes..hungry power freak to all liberal,destroying economy moral and law

    April 10, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. lousy

    pelosi said illegal is patriot and very special as long you vote for democraps

    April 10, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  24. Mr.EZ

    What's so difficult about immigration reform?

    Illegals are called illegal for a reason, and they should be treated like the criminals they are.

    If things are so bad in Mexico, why don't they stand up and fix it, instead of flooding America with their crime and violence? When I look at Mexico, all I see is a nation of cowards who run away, instead of taking back THEIR country, instead of taking OURS.

    Gather them up and ship them out, on their feet or in bags. They're not American citizens and should not be afforded any rights under American laws.

    April 10, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  25. dan

    One of the reasons that illegal aliens take jobs away from American citizens is that greedy U.S. employers are willing to pay them wages without paying the required social security taxes and medicare taxes, not to mention unemployment, disability insurance, and workers comp. I am not absolving the illegal aliens of blame. They are here illegally, so by law, they are comitting a crime. The advocates for these people should be working to change the system, to make it more workable for people who want to come here legally to work. They should not be spending all of their time trying to make us overlook the law. At the same time, our government should be coming down hard on employers who make illegal hires and evade taxes. Large fines and jail time might serve as a deterrent.

    April 10, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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